Comment: Such is this mob rule called ‘democracy’

The freedom to think, which we Maldivians claimed for ourselves by ousting a dictatorial government and replacing it with a ‘democratic’ one, appears to have rendered us incapable of rational thought.

There appears not a single principle that is not up for auction in the market of ‘public opinion’. Everything from our faith to our humanity carry with them a political price tag. At the helm is a government which oscillates so wildly between the political right and the left that any keen observer would suffer more repetitive strain injury to the neck than a spectator at a Wimbledon tennis final.

Take for instance the decisions by the Youth Ministry first to maybe-allow, then to disallow and then to definitely-allow, the Muslim televangelist, Dr Zakir Naik, to provide Maldivians with The Biggest Event of their lifetimes.

The latest decision, perhaps by no means the last, must have been arrived at after much soul-searching and in-depth analysis. It must, no doubt, have taken into account the experience of another country where sports grounds were taken over for ‘religious activities’. The Taliban turned Kabul’s main stadium into a hub for ‘religious devotion’, treating their masses to spectacles of execution, death by stoning, hanging and amputations. No doubt the audience departed much enlightened about ‘true Islam’.

Public opinion is a tricky idol at the altar of which to worship. The government must be perplexed at the opposition to its agreement with the United States to relocate some of the ‘Enemy Combatants’ or ‘Illegal Detainees’ from Guantanamo Bay to the Maldives. Why is a society that is so eager to stress its Islamic purity, and promotes its ‘100 percent Muslim’ status with the same zeal as a restaurant promoting a coveted Michelin star, opposed to relocating to their lands these people who have been so utterly wronged by the United States? Did not the eminent Dr Naik himself assert that the 11 September 2001 attacks were an ‘inside job’? By this very learned logic alone, these detainees can be nothing but innocent.

The opposition, however, is not willing to pay any heed – either to the venerable Dr Naik or to empirical evidence. Hosting these ‘convicts’, they cry, would make our country ‘a target’.

No thought is spared to consider:

(a) for a person to be labelled a ‘convict’, they need to first be convicted of an offence defined by law. Most of the detainees have never been charged with a crime let alone convicted of one.

(b) If they were ‘terrorists’, why would then a terrorist organisation attack us for sheltering them? Should they not, by the same logic, then be beholden to us?

(c) No country, other than the United States, has ever attacked another for ‘harbouring terrorists’. And, in light of the disaster that has been the ‘War on Terror’, no government is likely to disregard (or be allowed to disregard) international law again – at least in living memory – to the extent that the neo-conservative Bush government did.

Now the new US government is seeking to relocate these victims of one of the gravest miscarriages of justice in modern history. We are hardly going to be top of President Obama’s list of countries to attack next by ‘harbouring’ them.

“Even a country like the United States would not take them,” cries the opposition.

Even a country like the United States? Is this the extent of our liberalism? That we assume that any Western democracy is right, no matter how obviously wrong it is?

‘Public opinion’ – yes, that old chestnut again – and a highly right wing and conservative establishment are preventing President Obama’s government from closing the atrocity that is Guantanamo Bay. The ignorance of a vast majority of the American public, whose fears the Bush administration played like a maestro does an orchestra and are held aloft at a crescendo by Fox News, that bastion of balanced journalism, are now being uncannily echoed in the national theatre of Maldivian ‘public opinion’.

“We have not been told anything! We don’t know why they are in prison!” The opposition is hysterical, claiming to have been left “totally in the dark”.

It is hardly the government’s business to plug the gaping holes of ignorance in the opposition’s knowledge. Over 700 of the 50,000 ‘Enemy Combatants’ that the US apprehended in their War on Terror have been held in Guantanamo Bay. A vast majority of them are innocent. Information on how they were treated in US captivity is widely and easily available in the global public domain from the legal memos that deprived the Detainees of the Geneva Convention to those that redefined ‘torture’ as ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ to detailed prison logs that demonstrate what these innocent victims were put through in the name of ‘intelligence gathering’.

Profiles of over 500 detainees held at Guantanamo, diligently compiled by law professor and counsel to two detainees, Mark Denbeaux of Seton Law Hall, are also available for public perusal should one care to concern oneself with such minor details, in addition to the profiles compiled by Cage prisoners.

Given that the number of detainees currently being held at Guantanamo is 181, this information would contain within it details relating to the unfortunate souls destined for the Maldives to find ‘sanctuary’ among their ‘100 percent Muslim’ brothers and sisters.

Deliberate ignorance does not justify selling our humanity for the dubious pleasures of political gainsaying.

It is well and good for the government to advise those agitating against these dogmatic opinions and beliefs to organise themselves and form a viable alternative to the blatant evangelism of the religious right. This, however, becomes near impossible if the government remains unclear where it stands, and vacillates from one end of the political spectrum to the other in any given week.

There is a reason why liberal Maldivians cannot form a coherent whole in their own country – the space in which their ideas can flourish diminishes by the day as the government gives in inch by inch, and the extreme religious right takes mile after mile.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


30 thoughts on “Comment: Such is this mob rule called ‘democracy’”

  1. Munirah, The reason why we stress our 100% Muslim-ness is because it is something that is now ingrained into our society. It happened under President Gayoom's tutelage - and truth be told, he actively sought to use religion to maintain a hold over Maldivian citizens. Gayoom, more than any other leader, instilled in all of us that we are a 100% Muslim nation. And now, we are proud of it. Even though I know this is the one illiberal part of our Constitution, even I feel pride in our Islamic heritage and our status as an Islamic nation. Logic tells me of the danger of this feeling, but that feeling still persists.

    But that does not mean that we should become repressive. That does not mean that we should resort to compulsion and abomination. And now the religious conservatives are trying attack the Education Minister because he is considering revising the regulations for 11th and 12th grades. Because he wants to give them more opportunity and a better future.

    Dr. Mustafa Luthfi deserves Maldivian's support now more than ever if we are to progress as a nation. If we are to give our children the tools to succeed and bring our nation into the 21st century.

    We need to stop regression and the autocratic polices that are coming out of Adhaalath. Day by day the become more conservative, more repressive and more bold about being open about it. If we do not take action soon, we will open our eyes one day and realize that it is now too late.

  2. An interesting piece of writing. Perhaps if you (Ms. Munirah) had writtem this article without any bias, it would then have been an excellent piece of writing. Wonder why you have so bluntly labelled Dr. Zakir Naik as "the Muslim televangelist", is this just one of you concocted terms. Is Dr. Zakir Naik trying to heal by teaching the "Gospels" or is just your "subtle" way to create discontent.

  3. "Minivan" is now turning to be a "hub" for anti-religious fervour. Compliments to creating discontent.........

  4. I read this and could not make out what this lady was going about.. Was she mocking democracy or making a case for it?

    Minivan has become a facebook for pseduo-intellectual views.

  5. The Musketeer,

    One can find all sorts of hidden devices to 'create discontent' in anything if one searches hard enough.

    Zakir Naik is a televangelist, businessman and mass ignorance-exploiting TV personality more than anything else. (And he is little else)

  6. Oh so that is it Yaamyn....Thanks for the clarifications. Good show.

  7. @Salim Waheed
    The tools of sucess are in Islam unless you believe in the contrary, which you would not because you are proud of Islam?

    Dr.Zakir Naik is a talented Islamic Dawist. There is no need to write an essay.

    Verbose = garbage!

    Though, I liked the oscillation part. MDP is a wound up grandpa clock. If the oscillation stops the white elephant emerges, and so = trash.
    Trash + Garbage = Rubbish.

    Gasim, Hassan,Waheed and Adhaalath seem to have lost interest in winding up MDP any more because they say MDP is mostly busy oscillating to keep up with something ELSE, maybe quantum physics but definitely not TIME as we know it! So they would rather spend their valuable time killing mosquitoes and houseflies with an electric zapper!! zap! zap!

  8. I agree with 'The Musketeer' on his comment about Minivan news website being used as a plateform to spread islamophobia. It is sad that people like Salim Waheed who grew outside Maldives without proper knowledge on Islam is now preaching Islam to us. Very sad.

  9. I guess the truth must really hard, and you can see it all too clearly from most of the comments here. I completely agree with Munira on her viewpoints. A liberal Maldives or a more liberal Maldives is becoming more and more a distant reality.. how sad...

    Wake up people, for the sake of the future of the country...

  10. I think we all suffer from the same virus. We cannot think logically and we are incapable of critical thinking. There is no cure for us, alas!

  11. Muniraa, the brain that you heavily depend and that you so proud of , what guarantee you have it will work well even for 2 seconds , there’s a divine book revealed to us 1400 years before which is called , it gives us the rights and also rights comes with it’s limits and it’s not only the rights it’s way of life .. That is logic, where can you find such democracies .., what actually is democracy? Is there any democratic country? , there are some people who wants to be gay , we should allow it or not !! There some thing that we cant allow there are limits and also there is some thing called moral values .. This can only be described by Creator without taking any sides, that’s the reason why man made systems are failing through out the world ..

  12. Munirah, after all you're not free.Your mind is controlled and you are harboring alien thoughts which comes to you from the satanic dimension of your puppet masters - the Luciferian illuminati hell bent on creating secular New World Order. Now you don't have any right to poke into our affairs when possessed dancing to the tunes of your Masonic duties. We know that you are just another vehicle of your masters for spreading mischief and godlessness in our society.

    Puppets like Muneera could easily be exposed if you read

  13. This is the result of trying to istall vista on an old 284 processor.

    We want to be sophisticated. We want to use funky jargon and be seen as highly developed minds but the masses of the nation do not have the simplest of understanding of these things. They sway to the one who use most of the technical words but do not understand what exactly that means.
    They think these people must know a lot if they can talk for half an hour and you didn't even know what the message really is.

  14. Munirah

    The usual liberal supportive comments your articles gets is missing here. You know why? No one wants the detainees here!

  15. Munirah, your argument seems to be too much exaggerated I am not perceived that things are happening as the way you've opined. The rule of any society is based on the will of the majority of its citizen.

    Zakir naik is the most eminent scholar in the past few decades and if you want in numbers go out and do a bit of research before you blabber with your ignorant mind.

  16. Munirah, I hear you... yet am saddened to learn from the comments you have received for this article, how people are liberal only on chosen issues - for their convenience of course.

  17. Dear Munirah,

    Well done again!

    1-Dr Zakir Naik is a closet Salafist - just see the length of his trousers.

    2- Adalath has lost its last thread of moral authority to preach Islam when they called Quantanamo Bay inmates "dangerous terrorists" who have not even been charged. Remember how Adalath did not want to comment on the book coauthored by Dr Hassan Saeed before the Presidential Election in 2008 when suddenly Mr Gayoom banned it?

    3- Till religion becomes a an individual private matter there cannot be democracy and human rights and the freedom of expression that goes with it.
    But this is going to be difficult because Islam claims that it is entire way of life. So make the choice, democracy or Islam.

    4- It is a good decision to make Islam and Dhivehi optional at A'level. Parents are afraid that when their children drop these subjects other class mates will get to know how they feel about Islam. That is why this uproar.

  18. To be honest I didn't really get the point of the article as a whole.

    @Andy: Most eminent or most popular? There's a pretty big difference.

  19. Munira, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Interesting and thought provoking.

  20. The Wine Lover

    With all due respect - would you rather have a trouser that is short of its length or prefer wearing your trousers half way down your butt. All in the name of your ........... whatever you choose.

    And the uproar is made by those who are unable to get a pass in any other subject at school.

    It is not that Islam and Dhivehi is acting as a barrier or blackade, it is only ones attitude and misconceived notions that is causing all this.

    And Mr. Salim Waheeh, with your so called and claimed intellectual standard, when did you start doing the thinking bit for Dr. Musthafa Luthfy claiming his intention is to give more opportunity to student at 11th and 12th standard. What make you think that by teaching "Islam and Dhivehi" the way it is being done is depriving students of opportunities. Pathetic Salim.

  21. Munirah, you seem righteously indignant, and understandably so.

    In an ideal world, the majority of Maldivian citizenry would be educated enough to be able to access information using the technology that is available to us today, thereby thwarting the efforts of politicians to subvert their minds with half-truths and alarmist wolf-calling.

    However, the sad truth is, that most of us here in the Maldives are extremely vulnerable in this regard. We have cable TV but our main interest lies in the soap operas churned out by North Indians who have much to gain by promoting apathy in their own communities. We have internet but dedicate it mostly to downloading escapist fare - Heroes, Prison Break & Kyle XY - which has little or no relevance to our culture and almost no reference to what is going on in the world at large. We have bookshops which sell coloring books and boast books authored by the likes of Dan Brown and J.K. Rowling. We have libraries which are mostly left unattended by management and visitors alike.

    Why then are we surprised that we are so easily duped? Why then do we berate our first democratic administration for pandering to the masses on those issues on which they can. The growing religious conservatism in the Maldives today has a LOT to do with the weakness and exclusivity of our education system. The greatest wonder being that English has been the medium of instruction for so long but those who use it in public are often lampooned and those who actually can use it to effect are mostly among the social elite.

    The political situation in the Maldives today reflect years of apathy. An apathetic public who are satisfied with the hand-out-patronage of the elite. And an elite who were able to ascend to their current status mainly because of the lack of competition and rightly seek to maintain this dearth.

  22. Ms. Munirah - another phrase for your line of rational thinking - STINKING THINKING. Keep up the stink and start smelling all over.

  23. Dear Editor,

    Minivan News better include a section on "Nonsense & Gibberish" for the likes of Ms. Munirah and also a section on "Hatred & Anti-Social"

    Hope you would consider..........

  24. 'heck' : "Dr.Zakir Naik is a talented Islamic Dawist"

    Jerry Falwell, Peter Popoff and Benny Hinn were also 'talented' Christian 'dawists'.

    But that doesn't take away from the fact that between them, they were intolerant fundamentalists, conmen and exploiters of mass ignorance.

    Zakir Naik is no different. A conman is a conman no matter which religion he abuses to make his money.

  25. We are living real time show business!
    Who next? Carnival times!
    Aren't we really busy?

  26. i still cannot understand why we are agreeing to BAnish innocent Muslims from a jail to our countrty. If we are so "Muslim loving" and so "democratic" should'nt we be fighting to free these people and give them access to their own homes and families..Whats the difference from been in GNB prison or banished to MAldives.

  27. @yaamyn

    Dr.Zakir Naik just looks on till the conmen have finished. Then he slowly drags the carpet from beneath their feet and puts an end to the show!

    So I think he is more of a conmen TERMINATOR!

    Look down to see if your carpet is still there? Gone already?! But he isn't due till 27th!


Comments are closed.